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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Presiding Patriarch of the Church

Yesterday was the 105th birthday of Elder Eldred G. Smith, emeritus Presiding Patriarch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In this essay, we shall examine the duties of the office, its continuance during the 19th century into the 20th, and its discontinuance in 1979.

The Presiding Patriarch was sustained as a prophet, seer, and revelator in all General Conferences of the Church until 1979, when the office was discontinued.  His duties were to travel to the far-flung areas of the Church where there were no Stakes (and therefore no Stake Patriarchs) to give Patriarchal Blessings.  The following are the Presiding Patriarchs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Joseph Smith, Sen., father of the Prophet Joseph Smith, served from 18 Dec. 1833-14 Sep. 1840

Hyrum Smith served from 14 Sep. 1840-27 June 1844
William Smith served from 24 May 1845-19 Oct. 1845
John Smith, uncle to Joseph Smith the Prophet, served from 1 Jan. 1849-23 May 1854
John Smith, son of Hyrum Smith, served from 18 Feb. 1855-6 Nov. 1911
Hyrum G. Smith, grandson of John Smith (above), served from 9 May 1912-4 Feb. 1932
Joseph Fielding Smith, son of Apostle Hyrum M. Smith, served from 8 Oct. 1942-6 Oct. 1946
Eldred G. Smith, son of former Presiding Patriarch Hyrum G. Smith, served from 10 April 1947-4 Oct. 1979, when he was given the title Patriarch Emeritus

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For an incredible read on the history of the office of Presiding Patriarch, check out "Lost Legacy: The Mormon Office of Presiding Patriarch". While I don't necessarily agree with all the conclusions of the authors, I think it is fairly written. The co-author, Gary Smith, is the eldest son of Patriarch emeritus, Elder Eldred G. Smith, and would likely have been the next Patriarch to the Church, had the office not been effectively retired in 1979. The insight and first hand knowledge he brings to the book (being the son of one holding the office and bringing a realistic perspective) is priceless. My main issue lies in the author's conclusions on the authority Joseph Smith Sr. And Hyrum Smith held with the office. They both held positions in the 1st Presidency concurrently while being Presiding Patriarch (JS Sr. as assistant president and HS as associate president). While the honor and respect given to the patriarchale office is great (and rightfully so) their presiding authority over church affairs was by virtue of their 1st presidency positions. I totally understand how this perspective is clarified by the benefit of hindsight, but the authors make it sound like Hyrum's authority was due to the elevated powers he held by being Presiding Patriarch (while I associate them by his calling as associate president/2nd elder/co-head of this dispensation). Agreed that the distinctions between the two were not clearly seen at the time as they were always referred to as being the Patriarchs more than their 1st presidency positions.

This is an incredible book and I highly recommend it to all students of Mormon history.